Black Dynamite

Comedy is a fickle film genre. It’s hard for a comedy to be timeless – what might be funny now is more likely than not to be considered gauche in just a few years. But sometimes, a comedy is able to achieve notoriety for being so funny, so absurd, that it can’t help but succeed and maintain its reputation as a gut-buster film. BLACK DYNAMITE is that kind of comedy.

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Bright

BRIGHT is a Netflix original movie that melds fantasy with police procedural. In this film, the world initially looks like ours – but it is inhabited with more than just humans. Elves make up the bulk of the wealthy ruling class, while orcs live in poverty and are the victims of systemic racism. It’s a film with the trappings and characters of a fantasy film, but set in a familiar, modern day world. As a result, it’s a film that tackles big ideas like racism and integration – and I think it does so in a way that is very effective.

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Tropic Thunder

TROPIC THUNDER is the kind of film that feels like a revelation on the first viewing. It’s so different and unique, and that makes the humor feel all the more edgy. But even though the premise and humor still hold up well, it loses a lot of its magic when revisited. The flaws are more readily apparent, and the cracks really start to show. TROPIC THUNDER is certainly a fun, and funny, film – but it’s far from perfect.

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The Shape of Water

THE SHAPE OF WATER is a visually arresting film from visionary director Guillermo del Toro. It’s filled with an all-star cast and has an overarching theme that audiences can really identify with. But even with all that in its favor, THE SHAPE OF WATER was a very underwhelming experience for me.

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Pitch Perfect 3

Billed as the ending to the trilogy, PITCH PERFECT 3 wraps up most of the storylines and offers a decent final chapter for the characters of this franchise. It also has, arguably, some of the best music of the series – and for a series that is all about a cappella, that’s a major plus. When the film is firing on all cylinders, it’s really quite fun – but there are also points where the film definitely falters. It’s a major step up from PITCH PERFECT 2, but it is still a pale imitation of the first film.

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The Post

What I love about THE POST is how relevant and daring it is. With the current political climate, a historic drama of newspapers against the U.S. government seems downright prescient. The obvious choice in story should be the retelling of the Watergate scandal that brought down the Nixon presidency. But THE POST dodges that age-old story for something much less familiar – the decision by The Washington Post to publish news articles based on leaked, classified documents known informally as the Pentagon Papers. Not only does give audiences a glimpse into a historic battle where the freedom of the press was at stake, but it also allows for a secondary focus detailing just how The Washington Post became a national newspaper commentary. The film also casts a bright light on journalistic integrity, allowing room for the audience to interpret the events of the film with the Trump administration in mind.

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Pitch Perfect 2

It’s hard to feel much of anything about PITCH PERFECT 2. The film feels very safe, a far cry from how daring the first film felt. It opens with the Barden Bellas a cappella group celebrated as a reigning national champion for the last three years – so, of course, they start this film with a fall from grace in a cringeworthy debacle on live television. The result is that the Bellas are banned from competing – but they strike a deal that if they win the a cappella world championship, they will be reinstated.

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The Fly

If there’s one thing that THE FLY is, it’s self-aware. The plot of THE FLY is nothing new – it’s been lampooned for decades. The film doesn’t pretend like there is a big mystery to be unveiled – in fact, the audience is along for the ride. We know that, by the end of the film, the main character will have turned into a giant fly-like insect. THE FLY rightly understands that, if the destination is known, a compelling journey toward that inevitable ending is needed to keep the audience engaged.

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The Big Sick

THE BIG SICK is a film that perfectly captures a moment in time. It’s a modern day love story, complete with casual dating, Uber rides, and weird roommates. There’s a real genuine feeling that permeates THE BIG SICK, a kind of fleeting hope that floats right at the edge of the screen. It’s a film that showcases love, but also the heartache and racism and aspirations that are so intertwined in society today.

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